- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

American News, Aberdeen, Aug. 6, 2014

GOP fails on EB-5 scandal

Did you know that the EB-5 scandal in South Dakota is all done?

No one wants to ask more questions, so there must be no problems.

We know this because state Republican lawmakers on the Government Operations and Audit Committee said they aren’t interested in learning anything more.

They refuse to issue a subpoena to Joop Bollen of the Aberdeen-based SDRC Inc. Bollen is the only person alive who, we assume, can shed light on South Dakota’s use of the EB-5 program to generate funding for some businesses, including the failed Northern Beef Packers plant.

Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton and a candidate for South Dakota governor, was plowed over last week at a GOAC meeting. Despite her attempts to get the Legislative panel - dominated by Republicans - to call Bollen to testify, she was met with a resounding “no.”

“I think this is outside the scope of what we’re talking about at this time,” Rep. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg, said by phone during the meeting, according to a story by American News reporter Bob Mercer.

Outside the scope, you say?

In fact, the GOAC was tasked with learning about EB-5, the controversial program that recruits foreign investors to put money into U.S. businesses in an effort to seek U.S. residency.

Clearly there were problems with the effective administration of EB-5 in South Dakota, culminating with the actions of Richard Benda, the state’s former economic development director, who apparently double-billed the state $5,559 for three flights and redirected $550,000 in economic development money for his own use.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said last week that Benda would have been charged with felony theft had Benda not killed himself in 2013.

Benda was employed by SDRC.

So, wouldn’t state Republicans, those eagle-eyed truth-seekers, want to interview the last man who might know what’s going on?

While the GOP has been quite vocal about such “scandals” as “Benghazi,” ”Obamacare” and Common Core, state Republicans are turning down the chance to investigate a real, live scandal in their own backyard.

Story Continues →